Twelve Day Turnaround for Automation Upgrade
In a strategic business decision, POSCO-Thainox announced last year an ambitious business plan to increase annual capacity for cold-rolled stainless steel. Over the next four years, they will grow production from 200,000 tons to 300,000 tons. To meet existing demands and achieve their long-term goals, POSCO will need to upgrade their facilities with the smallest amount of interruption to their current production lines.
GE’s Energy Management Services business (NYSE: GE) was able to meet this demand and guarantee a fast turnaround of 12 days for upgrading the automation and drives on the final annealing and pickling line at the POSCO-Thainox plant.
To make this possible, GE is responsible for the upgrade project, including hiring and supervision of local subcontractors. It also is helped by its knowledge of the plant’s existing equipment and software. Commissioning is scheduled for early next year.
Several drives and software packages will be installed to revamp the drive and automation part. The software also will be used for revamping the human machine interface.
The new HPCi controllers being used in the upgrade are based on a common, standard hardware, making them virtually obsolescence-proof. Their added value comes from GE’s own P80i software, which is specially designed for automation and drives control.
“This project demonstrates that GE not only has the technology, it also has the ability to make things happen very quickly,” said John Chatwin, services sales manager, GE. “When you have a plant that is producing 200,000 tons a year of cold-rolled steel, you want it offline for as little time as possible. We were able to come up with a strong and cost-effective solution that would enable us to fulfill the challenge. Our new local team in Thailand helped a lot in working with the customer and with subcontractors in drawing up a plan for installation and commissioning.”
GE has worked with POSCO-Thainox in the recent past on their bright annealing line, which was successfully commissioned this May. “The experts from GE helped us to meet our objectives,” said Mr. Pongsak, maintenance manager, Thainox. “They also know that when the plant comes back online, it will be better and more reliable than ever, so the likelihood of future unplanned shutdowns is significantly reduced.”
Users of stainless steel sheet and coil around the world depend on POSCO-Thainox, the leading producer in Thailand and Southeast Asia, for high quality and continuity of supply. The company’s production facility in Rayong Industrial Park, 170 kilometers from Bangkok, is considered the most advanced of its kind in the ASEAN region.